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Weekend Doctor: Care navigators

By Hilary McKelvey, RN, Care Navigator

The role of a care navigator is to assist you, the patient, in the management of your health. Care navigators are registered nurses located in area primary care offices that work closely with your primary care physician or provider to ensure you have the resources available to take control of your health. Care navigators focus on chronic disease management and coordinating transitions of care.

What, specifically, can a care navigator do for you? Care navigators are equipped to help you in many different aspects in regard to the continuation of your care. Several common ways care navigators assist their patients, and community, are listed as follows.

Follow-up care
Care navigators will follow up with you after an admission at a hospital to coordinate care and ensure you understand discharge instructions and medications.

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Care navigators educate on new diagnoses and help manage your chronic condition.

Medication savings and education are provided by care navigators, along with formulary guidance. 

Tobacco cessation
Care navigators provide tobacco cessation counseling and access to resources at no charge.

Advance directives
Care navigators can also help you complete your health care advance directives, including health care power of attorney and living will. 

Preventive care, resource and insurance guidance
By working with your physician to make sure you receive preventive care and screenings, care navigators provide community resource information and assist with insurance/benefit clarification. 

How do I get in contact with a care navigator?
Care navigators accept referrals from primary care physicians and office staff members. Often, an automatic referral to a care navigator is provided for anyone who has been admitted or with frequent emergency room visits to a hospital. Care navigators also accept self-referrals for those who are enrolled in the Care Navigation Medical Home program through their employer or insurance provider.